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Judge Posner on trial management

He has predictably robust opinions on the subject, as Anne Reed recounts:

Although he was never a trial judge, he has presided by designation over "15 or so" trials, and told the Chicago Tribune, "I think I've learned a lot." ...

In a recent dissent, he wasn't satisfied with the model of umpireal passivity for judges:

Trial judges can and should control long trials by quizzing lawyers on their witness lists and documentary evidence ("Why do you want to call this witness? If you do call him, what (in general terms) will he be testifying about? What will that testimony add to your case? How lengthy would his testimony be and what would he cover that requires that length of time? Do you really need witness X to discuss topic A when you already have Y to discuss it? Can the parties agree to a stipulation in lieu of some of the evidence?"), putting time limits on trials, and holding active pretrial conferences, Judge Posner and the others went on. And they should do it before they're asked to...

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.